up with Barbie
She first took the world
by storm with her ponytail, black-and-white zebra-striped swimsuit, open-toed
shoes, sunglasses and earrings. She has it all — a perfect hour-glass
figure, looks and charisma. She took up inspirational roles of a doctor,
an astronaut and a businesswoman. She is every girl’s best friend.
She is Barbie.
Ruth Handler, co-founder of Mattel Toys, thought up Barbie when she was
watching her daughter Barbara play with paper dolls and imagine them in
grown-up roles. “Why not make a teenage doll that little girls could
play with and dream about?” she thought.
In the ’80s, Barbies became a craze not just among teens but women
too. Poonam, 32, says “Barbie symbolised the innocence of youth; she
was part of us that was timeless and ageless. I still have the entire collection.”
Mattel launched Barbie’s family and friends also. She got a handsome
steady in Ken. In 1995, she was joined by baby sister Kelly, and Share-a-Smile
Becky, a disabled friend in a wheelchair, debuted in 1997. Today, Barbie
has become universal — she wears even saris. In 1977, Barbie underwent
a face change, getting an open mouth smile and painted eyes in the process.
If girls got Barbie to play with, boys got toy guns. From cast iron cap
guns to cowboy pistols to army guns. But toy guns became unpopular during
the Vietnam War. Mattel produced a replica of M-16 rifle in 1966. But as
anti-war sentiments grew stronger, it was withdrawn. But they are back in
vogue now. Today toys have orange caps on the barrels to help police distinguish
between them and real weapons.
And how can one forget General Issue Joe — America’s real hero.
gi Joe’s most famous characteristic, the battle scar on his right
cheek, was designed to secure both his masculinity and uniqueness in the
market. It is not a bleeding wound but a slightly raised, yellow scar —
proof that Joe fought battles.
And hasn’t everyone played with that helpless looking guy with button-holed
eyes, large ears, big belly, with arms open for a hug when you are low or
happy. It is the very cuddly teddy bear. The teddy came into existence with
a cartoon. The cartoon, drawn by Clifford Berryman and titled ‘Drawing
the Line in Mississippi’, showed President Theodore ‘Teddy’
Roosevelt refusing to shoot a baby bear. According to the tale, Roosevelt
had travelled to settle a border dispute between Mississippi and Louisiana.
To please him his hosts in Mississippi took him bear hunting. But the president
didn’t sight any grizzly. Then someone captured a bear and invited
Roosevelt to shoot it. He refused to kill a helpless target.
As teddy entered popular consciousness, he was sold with roller skates,
with electric eyes and came as musical bear and mechanical bear. Today they
are available in all sizes, ready to be cuddled.
American Books Everyone Has Read
With the Wind: Margaret Mitchell’s sweeping,
romantic take on the American Civil War.
Old Man and the Sea: Hemingway’s Pulitzer
Prize winner on how to fish patiently, live bravely and lose
The Godfather: Mario Puzo’s gritty underworld
saga set in the time of Vito Corleone.
Love Story: Erich Segal’s tale of true
love with a tragic twist. Romantic staple of a generation.
Da Vinci Code: Dan Brown’s pulp thriller
with generous doses of religious symbolism, art history and